Driving in New Zealand

In New Zealand people drive on the left hand side of the road. The speed limit is 50 kilometres per hour on most city/urban roads and 100 kilometres per hour on most other roads. Road side sign posts are used to indicate when the speed limit changes. You can be fined or have your driver licence taken off you for exceeding the speed limit.

Everyone who drives on the road in New Zealand must have a valid driver licence. If you have a current overseas driver licence or international driving permit you can drive for one year after you first arrive in New Zealand. If you do not have an overseas driver licence or an international driving permit you cannot drive. You must apply for a New Zealand driver licence.

If you are caught by Police driving without a valid licence, you will be ordered to pay a fine and you will not be able to drive anymore until you get a proper licence. You cannot get a Driver’s licence from the Police. To apply for a New Zealand Driver’s licence, you can phone the Land Transport New Zealand on 0800 822422 or contact your nearest driver licensing agent. See also: Driving information for visitors and new residents from Land Transport New Zealand.

If you are a victim of crime or a road crash

  • New Zealand Police are responsible for investigating crime and road crashes, and for keeping people safe.
  • If you see a crime or road crash happening, or if you are a victim of crime, then please telephone the Police to report it and ask for help. It is important to tell the police as soon as possible.
  • In an emergency, telephone the police by dialling 111.
  • In many situations, Police will want to visit the place where the crime happened (the crime scene).
  • In non-emergency situations, police may ask you to go to a police station to make an official report.
  • Police may want to talk to you about the crime and get information and evidence to help catch the offenders and, if appropriate, arrest them.
  • New Zealand Police are very good at catching criminals and solving crime.
  • If you saw a person committing a crime or causing a road crash, you can help Police by telling them what the person looked like.
  • Victim Support is another organisation that works very closely with Police to help and support you after a road crash or crime has been committed.
  • Victim Support can help you with any questions or concerns you may have about being a victim or witness.
  • If the person who caused the crime or road crash is arrested, he or she may have to go to Court.
  • You may also have to go to Court to give evidence and explain what that person did to you. Court Victim Advisers can help you with information about the court process.
  • In New Zealand all victims have rights, which include being treated with courtesy and compassion. The Victims’ Rights Act 2002 sets out what your rights are as a victim.

If you are in a car crash

  • If you are involved in a car crash, it is very important to try and stay as calm as possible.
  • You must stop to see if anyone else is injured or if property is damaged.
  • If people are hurt, telephone 111 and ask for police and ambulance help. If you can’t telephone for help, then ask someone to telephone for you. Police will find out who was responsible for causing the crash.
  • Police may arrest a person if they caused a crash by breaking New Zealand’s driving laws.
  • In some less serious car crashes where no one is hurt, police will probably not come to the crash. But you must still report the crash to police.
  • If you are in a car crash, then by law, you must tell police about it within 24 hours of the crash.
  • If you have car insurance you should tell your insurance company that you have been in a car crash.
  • You will need the police file number when making an insurance claim after a car crash.
  • Give your name and address to the driver of any car that’s been damaged and to the owner of any property that’s been damaged. If other drivers are involved in the crash, try to find out whether they have insurance and which company they have insurance with.
  • If you can’t drive your car after the crash then you should protect it from any more loss or damage. For example, move the car to the side of the road and lock it. Take personal things from the car away with you.

If you are driving

  • New Zealand Police are responsible for making sure drivers obey New Zealand’s driving laws.
  • If someone breaks these driving laws they may have their licence or car taken off them. People may even go to prison.
  • You must be at least 16 years old and have a driving licence to drive in New Zealand.
  • You need a special motorcycle licence to ride a motorcycle.
  • Carry your driver licence with you at all times when driving.
  • Your car must have a current warrant of fitness (WoF) and registration.
  • You should study the Road Code which explains New Zealand’s driving rules.
  • When in a car, children under the age of seven must be in an approved safety seat according to their age, size and weight.
  • In New Zealand, you must not drive after drinking alcohol. You must not drive too fast and you must always wear your safety belt.
  • Every person in a car must wear a safety belt. This includes people in the back seats of a car.

Further information

For more safety information, please see: